You have a story to tell

Since I started in my new position as community content coordinator two months ago, I’ve talked to quite a few people about starting a blog. The conversation almost always starts the same: “What would I blog about?” they ask, usually quickly followed by, “I don’t really have anything interesting to say.”

Nope. I don’t buy it, and I (politely) tell them so. And once we start brainstorming, these same people produce some absolutely fantastic ideas for a blog (read from two of our newest local bloggers here and here). They are confirming the reason I ultimately wanted to take this job: Everyone has a story to tell. Blogging lets you do that. And it allows the rest of us to hear from people in the community who don’t always have the opportunity to tell their stories.

With that said, we’d love to have more people blogging for the West Central Tribune. If you still need some convincing, though, I’ve put together a list of the top reasons you might want to consider blogging:

1) It connects you to a larger community. No matter where you’re blogging from (even if it’s rural Minnesota), blogging gives you the opportunity to connect with and meet people across the United States and even the world who share your passion. Even the biggest blogging skeptics have to agree: that’s pretty incredible.

2) You’ll learn something new. No matter how invested you are in what you’re blogging about, it’s impossible to know everything about that subject. If you visit other bloggers who write about your topic, you’re almost guaranteed to learn new things – or, at the very least, see your blog topic through someone else’s eyes.

3) Blogging gives you a voice. Ever feel like no one is interested in what you have to say? Maybe your spouse’s eyes glaze over when you talk sports or your 85-year-old grandmother just doesn’t get why you watch so much reality TV. Not on the Internet. With millions of people using blogs every day, you’re almost guaranteed that someone will take an interest in yours. Don’t get me wrong: It can take time to build up a community of followers, so don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a ton of web hits right away. But if you post consistently, tag your posts for search engines and cross-promote your blogs on your social media sites, you’re likely to build followers. People like to read what other people think.

4) If you’re a business or organization, you really should be blogging. Writing a blog lets your consumers see you as a person, not just as a company. On your blog, you can post quirky things that happen at the office, introduce new hires or tell stories about people who have benefited from your product or service. Facebook, newsletters and other promotional materials limit the amount of space you have to tell these stories. On the Internet, you can share to your heart’s content.

5) It’s not as time-consuming as you might think. In the era of Facebook and Twitter, it can be hard to justify spending a lot of time writing lengthy blog posts. But not every blog post has to be 1,000 words. If you already have Facebook and post regular status updates, consider using those as a blog post and adding a few more sentences or a link to another article. You can put as much or as little time into your blog as you want. But be warned: Many people find that once they start blogging, they enjoy it so much that they make more time for it.

6) There are no rules when it comes to blogging. There is article after article out there that will tell you “how to write a great blog,” but in reality, no one can tell you how to blog. Sure, there are some best practices you may want to keep in mind, but a blog is completely yours and how you run it is up to you. Period. So if you want to take a month-long hiatus from blogging or if you decide that you’re going to blog in all capital letters with 12 exclamation points after each sentence, no one can tell you that you’re not doing it right. Which brings me to my last and final point:

7) BLOGGING IS FUN!!!!!!!!!!!! It really is. Blogging gives you a creative outlet to tell your stories and say what you want to say. Don’t feel like you have to be a professional writer or grammar expert to start a blog. Just be yourself, and when in doubt, refer to #6.

I’m sure I could think of many more reasons to start a blog. These are just the ones that came to me quickly. If you’re now convinced that blogging is something you or your business/organization should be doing, why not start a blog on Areavoices? If you have questions or an idea for a blog, e-mail me at awhite@wctrib.com, give me a call at 320-214-4308 or find me on Twitter @Ashley_WCT.

P.S. What are some things you’d like to see on this blog? Any burning questions you have about our reporters/editors or the news process in general? Let us know in the comments below!

Ashley White, community content coordinator

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